worlds collide

May 22, 2006

The BBC has an island:

And the RL (that’s “real life”) conference BarCamp now has a SL analog; here’s a write-up on Laughing Squid:

Granted, BarCamp’s pretty geeky to begin with. But the BBC? A delightful surprise.

data visualization

May 16, 2006

Gapminder presents an amazing way to visualize data on a graph over time. Click “go straight to the graph” for a demo. Set the axes you’re interested in; pick specific countries if you wish; and hit the “play” button to see changes over time. The demo just shows the tip of the iceberg — I was lucky enough to see a video of the presentation at this year’s TED conference, which just blew me away — but it’s still pretty incredible.

at the Faculty Academy

May 16, 2006

I’m sitting in a lovely auditorium at the University of Mary Washington, reveling in being at a conference where I am not a host (and reveling no less in the power outlet right here in the arm of my seat and the no-fuss wireless access… cool… if I had a tropical drink it would be just like a vacation!). Cyprien’s showing us stuff I had no idea Flickr could do, and explaining stuff that I knew it could do but couldn’t work out how.

I’ve also seen the neat stuff faculty here are doing with their courses. Wikis, blogs, digital storytelling, moviemaking — it’s all here. The faculty are sharing the process, the ups and downs, what worked and what didn’t, all with frankness and humor. There’s a fantastic atmosphere of support and a willingness to learn from each other that’s wonderful to see. I’m thrilled and honored to be a guest here.

Take a look at the conference blog — we’re writing it as we go!

If your phone book were a person

May 5, 2006

The phone rang the other evening. Uncharacteristically, I chose to answer it. A pleasant female voice identified herself as a staffer doing a survey for the phone book and asked for the male head of the household. “Hey,” I shouted to my husband, who was standing about 10 feet away, “do you want to take a survey about the phone book?” “No,” he yelled back. I turned back to the phone. “I’m sorry, he’s unavailable,” I said politely. The whole exchange had been completely audible to the caller, who had the humanity to laugh. “Then may I speak to the female head of the household?” she asked gamely.

I’m a big fan of usability testing, and market research is its distant cousin, so I like to help; but I think it was the fact that she laughed that convinced me to stay on the phone. Read the rest of this entry »